The world is currently going through a period of great change. CO² levels have attained an all time high, and various experts predict that the water levels can potentially rise up to 50m in the next 100 years. Weather patterns are changing the face of the earth and all the thought that has been put into our modern-day notions of architecture will be fundamentally affected.
What is considered “un-inhabitable”? How does one classify something as being unsuitable? In Paris for example, housing is at an all time low. Should we not utilise as many spaces as possible? Even if they fall outside of what we consider “conventional”? Certain African tribes live on the sea, to avoid being attacked by other rebel tribes. The list of examples is unending. Solutions exist worldwide, but by trying to standardise housing and buildings, we have fallen into a realm of hyper constraint.
My thesis was primarily based on this notion but throughout the course of its evolution in turned into the study of water-based architecture and how one could utilise the many concepts around the world to “dredge” through the years to come by adapting our existing architecture.
So, with the approval of my superiors I sacrificed 2 years of my studies to the further exploration of this concept. What came out of it was a thesis and 2 projects on land/water based architecture.
The project is experimental in nature but aims to provide an answer to existing and future problems that are to arise in the next 100 years.
- Global warming
- Sea level rise
- Inhabiting flood regions
The main constraint of this project was that it had to be situated around Montpellier in France. Having analysed water rise patterns and various graphics from the many meteorological sources I could get my hands on I was able to determine key areas of the town that were susceptible to be heavily affected by flooding. This resulted in a very basic idea.
The project imagined itself, by being in direct confrontation with the elements. A mix between urban density and natural shapes that could be adapted to any program. The initial designs were as though they had been shaped by the elements, like a rock being eroded by time.
The project defines itself as an urban concept with a new form of architecture rather than an architectural project with a new urban concept.
PROJECT 1 – Urban Center
The site of this project was fixed by my superiors, but after a bit of research, the data showed that the concept could be adapted to this part of town. Meterological data showed this area being submerged in a near future due to SLR ( Sea level rise) and was currently prone to frequent flooding. A perfect start to test out the research.
The project had to be sustainable in the now as well as in the future. So the challenge was to find a way to link the two. Flooding became the focal point, or rather the prevention of.
The main issue with dense urban areas, revloves around a lack of water irrigation. Not enough bare ground. So by creating more green spaces, we eliminate the need to rely on expensive, and generally badly designed water irrigation systems. Mother nature does it 1000 times better and for free. Increasing the grounds absorption capacity was essential.
The main axes of the project;
- CREATE new artificial lakes that retain the excess water in the flooded area and re-distribute it intelligently into the river.
- ADAPT a program to the site in link with the urban direction of the town to answer a need.
- ADD an sufficient quantity of vegetation to solidify the ground and absorb the excess water.
- DESIGN an upper level of circulation without impacting the ground below.
The project aims to create a new focal point in the area. A park that could inhabit various gardens for the local community and for scientific research in link with the various science faculties in the surrounding area. The filtration and distribution of water would be the key to creating a new scientific branch in the region dedicated to water research.
From the top of the site to the bottom there is a difference of ground height of roughly 3m NGF. This creates a natural slope which the project uses to it’s advantage to facilitate the distribution of water between the lakes.
The Architecture of the project is based on an organic typology, using the angled shape of a rock to provide better illumination and greater heat absorption. Each volume is designed in a different way, taking into account it’s solar orientation, its program and also its position on the slope.